Mistakes We Made at Gen Con 50

August 21, 2017 gen-con business conventions lessons-learned

This was our fourth Gen Con as a company, I think my seventh overall. While we’ve done a lot of things right over the years, we’ve also made a lot of mistakes. These are some of the mistakes we made this year, that we’re hoping never to repeat again.

  1. Always Demo All of Your Games
    Especially when you’re a small company, there’s no excuse for not having the ability to perform even a small demo of your game at the booth.

    This year, we focused on pushing our newest release, World Championship Russian Roulette as well as an upcoming release U Mad Bro. However, because of our limited space, that meant our flagship title, Two Rooms and a Boom, just loomed behind us. This meant if we made a Two Rooms sale, it was likely because someone just walked right up and said Hey, I want to buy that.” Fantasy Flight, on the other hand, is still running demos of Elder Sign, even though that game came out in 2011. You have to keep supporting your games.

    Every year there are new people to the hobby, and people that have never heard of your game. There’s no reason not to be telling them about it.

  2. Always Drive Traffic from Your Events Back to Your Booth
    Every night at Gen Con, wherever people are playing Werewolf, you can see people playing games of Two Rooms and a Boom long into the night. That’s great! But we can’t sell games at these events per Gen Con policy. I don’t know why, but it took us until Saturday morning, four years after we started attending this con, to realize that we should give our GMs coupons for $5 off copies of Two Rooms after they’ve played the game.

    People are the absolute most likely to buy your game in the moments after they’ve played it. If you can’t sell it to them right then (see #1), then the best you can do is give them an incentive to go buy it at their first opportunity.

  3. Never Bring More Copies of Your Newest Game than You Bring of Your Oldest Game
    We brought about an equal number of copies of Two Rooms as we did of WCRR, based on previous year’s and con’s data. However, with WCRR, we sold out at the onset of day two, whereas it took us until the end of the show to deplete our Two Rooms stockpile. WCRR was a new release, Gen Con is a huge show, we should have stocked it better.

  4. Volunteers At Booth = Your Games +1
    This wasn’t a huge mistake, but it was something we had to keep thinking about as time went on, we had two tables for two games, so two volunteers seemed good for our lowest point. However, that meant no one was free to make sales, run cards, get change, or act as a barker” for drawing crowds, setting up future demos, or explaining what’s happening in an in-progress game to curious onlookers1. This is bad.

Overall, none of these mistakes were killers for us. And that’s always an important thing to keep in mind, we’re constantly trying to take note of what’s happening around us, and what we can do to improve it. We had phenomenal feedback and excitement around U Mad Bro, and like I said, we sold out of WCRR lightning-fast. The Tuesday Knight Podcast Live-recording went really well, and it was amazing to connect to so many of our fans. On top of all of that, I got voted to be an ENnies judge for 2018, which is a huge honor. All that to say, there’s a lot we did right at Gen Con 50, but that’s a post for another time.

  1. That floater” person who is free to cover those non-demo bases can often be you, the owner or designer or publisher, but then be aware, when your Chinese licensee comes up to chat, or a retailer wants to ask you how they can get a demo copy, you’ll now be occupied. We’ve found it’s best to leave people who are likely to be drawn away to deal with meetings randomly off the schedule entirely, so there’s no assumption that they’ll be there to cover a gap staffing.

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